My Annual Report
The Rev. Kassinda Ellis
On this Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Paul in his letter to the Corinthians reminds all of us that we all have gifts and talents that have been allotted to us by God. Each Annual meeting is an opportunity to gather to reflect on how we as a congregation used our individual talents to benefit St. Joseph’s and the wider community as a whole. Though it is only four months into my tenure I can see that many here at St. Joseph’s use the gifts God has given you for the good of St. Joseph’s.
When I began this fall, I lead the Vestry retreat at Mercer School of Theology. The retreat was designed to focus on the role and responsibilities of a Vestry and it was well attended by the vestry members. The members of the vestry were able to not only learn about what is expected of them as members but they were able to express their concern on how the decision making process takes place within the leadership. I have observed over the last few months there is a parallel process between the feelings expressed among the vestry members and the overall feelings of the congregation. Open communication regarding decisions has not always been articulated to the congregation. Therefore, one of the goals moving forward will be to have better communications between the vestry and the congregation. The conversation started during the October vestry retreat will continue at the next retreat scheduled for February/March.
I had the opportunity in my first few weeks to meet with the heads of organizations. This meeting gave me insight to how these individual groups help aide in the ministry of the church. As the meeting came to a close I was asked what visions I had for St. Joseph’s moving forward and though I had many thoughts I was not prepared to express but a few at that point in time.
You see, it is easy for me as the clergy to plan an agenda or a vision for the congregation and expect you to respond positively. However, in my experience over the past ten years it is better that the agenda and the vision come from both the clergy and congregation working together to build God’s church. I have had many individuals speak to me about St. Joseph’s, fondly remembering the St. Joseph’s of the past. I am interested in not only hearing about the past but more so interested about hearing how you as the congregation view it present and future.
Therefore, I have arranged for a congregation retreat that will take place in two parts in February and April. The goal of the retreat will be to allow you as members of this congregation to express your concerns and hopes for St. Joseph’s. The retreats will be led Dr. Lena Mullings a consultant used by the diocese to help congregations move forward and set goals. The first part which will take place in February with the heads of organizations and in April the second part will be with the congregation as a whole. It is my hope that all members of the congregation will take this opportunity to be a part of these discussions.
It was clear that in order to move forward that we needed administrative help in the church office, therefore I hired a new part time parish administrator. Ms. Georgia Dunn comes highly qualified as her former work with the Jamaican Embassy overlaps the work needed to run the church office. Ms. Dunn began her work on January 4th, and has already started working to put the office in order. I hope in time Ms. Dunn will experience the worth of St. Joseph’s.
Worship & Spirituality
Worship & spirituality is the thing that grounds, shapes, and defines who we are as a faith community. Over the last few months I have truly enjoyed worship at St. Joseph’s and I look forward to where we are heading. In the next few weeks you will receive the liturgical worship calendar for 2016. The liturgical worship calendar highlights the worship services for the upcoming year and I am excited at the services we have instore. You will also receive in a few weeks a Lenten schedule highlighting the different programs to help all of us grow closer to God. One such event is the Lenten Study after Stations of the Cross on Alan Jones book Passion for Pilgrimage: Notes for the Journey Home. It is my hope that the Lenten study will be the beginning of several adult studies throughout the year moving forward, so please stay tuned.
So far there have been two baptisms since my arrival. Baptism will continue to be the first Sunday of each month and during the Easter Vigil. Those seeking baptism can receive an application from the church office. Please note that baptism class is necessary for all parent, godparents, and those old enough to answer the Baptism questions on their own. Confirmation is in full swing. Several of our young people are take this next step in their faith journey. God willing, they will all be confirmed this May. I would like to thank Ms. Pauline Parchment for her time and assistance during this confirmation season.
St. Joseph’s Parish Day School
I hit the ground running as I began my work with the school. The school provides for many of our young children a warm, safe, and loving environment for which they can learn. It was made clear to me during my interview process that many are divided as to whether to close or keep the school open. I am a firm believer in the power of education, more over the power of a Christian centered education. However, I am not going to beat around the bush, the school is in need of restructuring in order for its survival.
I have put together a School Committee that will help in the restructuring of the School. The committee members consist of vestry members, parents, teachers, members of the community, one representative from the diocese, and one member of the Jamaica Deanery clergy. I have tasked the committee with looking at four integral areas of the school, finance, policy, curriculum, and human resources/professional development. The committee is subdivided within these four areas, anyone who is interested in being a part of these subcommittees please let me know. Our goal for this year is to examine the current state of the school and create a five-year strategic plan that will place the school on a better footing. The School Committee will function as the School Board for the next two years when at that time we will be in a better position to restore a new School Board.
I could not close this report without saying thank you to the entire St. Joseph’s community for remaining good and faithful servants of God. Thank you to the Acolytes, the Lay Eucharistic Ministers, the Lay Readers, the Altar Guild, and the Choirs for making worship flow. I thank Mr. Henry, Director of Music for the wonderful work he is doing with the Senior Choir and the music program. Thank you to Ms. Dolce, Mrs. Joseph, and Mrs. Althea Archer for working with the Youth Choir. Thank you Ms. Higgins and Ms. Grant for the work you do with the dance ministry. Thank you to Ms. Haughton and the entire Sunday school teachers for teaching our children in the ways of Christ.
Thank you to the Wardens, Mrs. Valentine, Mr. Harper, and the Vestry for your leadership through the transition of clergy. As always in thanking people one will most often forget someone, therefore again I thank all of you those seen and unseen for your tireless effort to ensure that the ministry of God continues in this place.
May God continue to bless this faith community of St. Joseph’s and may we always “enter to worship and leave to serve.”
Respectfully submitted your sister in Christ,
The Rev. Mthr. Kassinda R.T. Ellis